One of the ironies of Churchill is that its residents, who have so much to lose from climate change, often have to drive for their own safety. Signs emblazoned with the silhouette of a polar bear warn pedestrians not to walk in certain areas around town and on the banks of the Churchill River. People leave their cars, and sometimes their houses, unlocked, in case they or a passerby need to make a quick escape from a hungry animal.
Like Juneau, Alaska, there’s no way to get to Churchill by car—Highway 6 ends in Thompson, several hours south. Visitors either fly or take a two-day train ride from Winnipeg. Food comes in by rail or through the port, a concrete hulk on a nearby inlet that freezes solid in the winter.
On Socotra, an island 250 miles off the coast of Yemen, the roads are so bad that 90 minutes of tailbone-bruising driving equates to five miles of travel. The roads would be one reason to paraglide over the island. Another reason would be the scenery. Sugar-white sand dunes spill into turquoise surf. Pink cliffs rise abruptly from the beach. Dragon's blood trees, plants that look like giant umbrellas and can live for more than 300 years, pop up suddenly from rocky scrub.
On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen boarded a bus filled with schoolchildren in Pakistan and shot a 14-year-old girl in the head. Her name is Malala Yousafzai, and she is now in critical condition in a Peshawar hospital. She openly voiced her belief that girls in Pakistan should be able to get an education. For that reason, men covered their faces and hunted her down. The details of her attack come from an article in The New York Times, which featured the following statement from the Taliban:
A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed by phone Tuesday that
Ms. Yousafzai had been the target, calling her crusade for education
rights an "obscenity."
"She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly
propagating it," Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the
militants would certainly try to kill her again. "Let this be a lesson."
Gear Tester Andrew Forsthoefel has just finished his cross-country walk. It took him nearly a year. At approximately 2,000 steps per mile—he’s had plenty of chances to count—Andrew has taken more than six million steps on his way from Pennsylvania to the Pacific.
Forsthoelfel sent us notes on his shelter from the high desert of Arizona. "The Navajo reservation land is beautiful, it’s harsh, and it’s all dust, sand, and rock," he shared. "I like it, even if there aren’t any trees for shade and even though the towns are few and far between. Because of the distance between water-refueling spots, I’m normally walking 20-plus miles each day, sometimes 30-plus. These long hours are putting my body through the ringer: dry cracked feet, burnt brown skin, aching legs."
Before Forsthoefel left, we set him up with an MSR Nook Tent, specifically designed to fit in small and/or awkward spaces. Here's Forsthoefel's report on his home away from home:
On July 8, 25-year-old journalist Filipe Leite straddled one
of his two horses and rode out of the Calgary Stampede under the escort of the
Royal Mounted Police to start a 10,000-mile, two-year-long, 12-country journey that he hopes will end on his family’s ranch in Brazil. To understand the
motivations for the cowboy's quest, it helps to start with his birth. His father,
a cowboy, named him Filipe because it means friend of horses in Portuguese. He
rode a horse before he could walk. As a little boy, his father told him the
story of Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss schoolteacher who decided to ride
from Argentina to New York City in 1925 on a pair of horses. Tschiffely rode
over 16,000-foot mountain ranges, down into humid tropical jungles, and slept
in Indian villages on his way through Central America. He didn't make it to New York City, but landed in
Washington, D.C., where he was greeted at the White House by President Calvin
Coolidge in 1928. “Of high adventures, hairbreath
escapes, and deeds of daring, there were
few; yet in all the annals of exploration I doubt if any traveler, not
excepting Marco Polo himself, had more leisure than I to see and understand the
people, the animals, and plant life of the countries traversed,” said Tschiffely
in an article about the expedition.
Leite said Tschiffely's journey inspired him. The Brazilian hopes to chronicle his expedition in
a documentary. For now, he is resting in Delta, Colorado, roughly 1,000 miles from
his start in Canada. He estimates it will take him another a year and nine months of riding before he arrives home at his family’s ranch in the small town of Espirito
Santo do Pinhal, Brazil. “My horses will be retired there where they will enjoy
fresh water and green grass for the rest of their days,” says Leite. “I'm
giving them to my little sister. She's six years old now and will spoil them to
We caught up with the cowboy by email to find out a bit more about his journey.